KATHMANDU, Feb 18: With the election of a new president and vice president inching closer, the left alliance parties--CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)--are founding it difficult to decide whether to continue with the existing president and vice presidents or pick new faces for the two posts.
Both parties are in a fix as some senior leaders who are unlikely to get any vital posts after the parties' unification are mounting pressure to become president or vice president themselves, while the two incumbents are pushing for their continuation in those posts.
The Election Commission has proposed March 5 as the date for the election of a new president, and according to the law, the date for the election of the vice president must be announced within a week of the presidential poll. As the presidential poll is just two weeks away, the incumbent president and vice president and the other aspirants have intensified lobbying for their election to the top state posts.
According to interlocutors from UML and the Maoists, President Bidya Bhandari and Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun have approached top leaders of both parties directly or through aides with their desire for second terms.
“Both have the similar argument that in changing the president or vice president after two years the state will need to bear the expenditures of the former incumbents also. It would also be difficult for them to refrain from active politics as both are relatively young,” said a UML leader requesting anonymity.
According to UML leaders, only party Chairman K P Oli has indirectly proposed at meetings a repeat term for the president. General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel is also in favor of the idea. “However, most of the party leaders are against, and some are eying the post for themselves,” said one leader. Earlier, UML senior leader and former prime minister Jhalnath Khanal had publicly stated that no one should be given a repeat term in the top state posts. He was hinting at the post of president. Former speaker Subas Nembang is also vying for the post, according to party insiders.
Maoist Chairman Dahal is also positive about repeat terms for both president and vice president. But most Maoist leaders are against retaining the same faces. They have argued that a chance should be given to other capable individuals. Maoist veteran leader Amic Serchan has publicly expressed a desire to be either president or vice president. However, Vice President Pun has intensified lobbying among the Maoists and among some ULM leaders for a second term, according to party sources.
Party leaders against repeating the same faces have challenged Oli and Dahal to justify continuing the same person as president or vice president.